Former South African cricketer Peter Pollock was a fearsome fast bowler. His intense eyes were once pictured and headlined in a magazine article under the banner of ‘The man who loves to hate’.
And he especially hated it when his wife, Inez, became a Christian. And, as he says, one of those ‘happy-clappy charismatic movement’ Christians too!
In his autobiography ‘Clean Bowled’ Pollock paints a vivid picture of a life-changing experience he had while watching evangelist Reinhard Bonnke on TV, debating with critic and self-styled cynic, Stephen Grenfell.
He writes: “Inez had been a Christian for about a month and on a couple of occasions I had expounded to her about the hypocrisy of her new-found faith.
“Because I remembered a smattering of the Sunday school stories out of the Bible I reckoned that I knew all about religion and I felt that I was almost convincing in exposing this ‘passing phase’ in her life.
“Perhaps the most impressive part of my argument was the loudness of my voice and the fact that I did not permit any counter assaults. You just can’t win against that type of bloody-minded aggression but now, on television, Stephen Grenfell was saying most of the things that I had propounded. I called Inez suggesting that now my views were being confirmed on TV, she had no option but to agree!
“I think that she was a little disappointed by what Grenfell was saying, while deep down I smilingly and triumphantly added my quiet little ‘I told you so’. She was, however, spared too much agony because a car drove up the driveway and a hoot suggested that her lift had arrived. She could now escape my clutches and those of Stephen Grenfell and seek the haven of her church.
“‘Typical!’ I thought to myself. ‘They [Christians] can’t see the blunt facts and reality of life. They are always running away.’
“This left me in front of the television, and suddenly, frighteningly, I found myself deeply transfixed. Slowly but clearly it was as if the whole TV set was speaking only to me. Looking at Reinhard Bonnke I saw clean-shaven freshness and innocence. I saw peace and deep tranquillity and I saw a power, strength and confidence which seemed so out of place hidden behind that smiling countenance. Then I looked at Stephen Grenfell and suddenly in Stephen’s place I saw myself transposed on the screen and there, rudely exposed, was the ugly real me.
“Yes, there was the fast bowler whose intense hard eyes were once pictured and headlined in a magazine article under the banner of ‘The man who loves to hate’. I saw the cynic, the know-all, the ego so full of pride, the selfishness and the one-track ambition that seeks recognition and gratification no matter what the expense. Yes, I had a killer instinct and I understood that ‘nice guys come second’. Those are the rules of the rat-race. It came before me, like a flood, and what I saw was ugly – as ugly as sin.
“But worse, sitting there ‘alongside’ Stephen Grenfell, I had the cheek and audacity to question what Jesus Christ stood for, there represented by Reinhard Bonnke. Indeed, there I was seemingly pointing a finger from out of the mud and darkness at the shining light of Jesus Christ.
“Inside I felt sick, sick, sick – the type of nausea that is empty and soul destroying. Indeed, I had never before seen myself so clearly exposed, cut through the centre by a surgeon’s scalpel. On display, those disembowelled innards, oh so ugly, shocked me to the core. It was a vivid experience and that ordinary Sunday was starting to become very extraordinary.”
That evening, after an invitation to visit some Christian friends – and unbeknown to his wife at the time – Peter committed his life to Christ. He said: “Conversions don’t come more sudden than that! A growling lion had been transformed into a lamb.”